Honda Announces the New Civic Hybrid Sedan --- The World's Most Fuel-Efficient 5-Seater Production Gasoline Vehicle

December 13, 2001, Japan


Tokyo, December 13, 2001 --- Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has released a highly practical new sedan, the Civic Hybrid, which boasts ultra-high fuel economy of 29.5km/L*1-the highest in the world for a 5-passenger gasoline-powered production vehicle. The new Civic Hybrid goes on sale Friday, December 14th at Honda Primo dealers throughout Japan.

The Civic Hybrid was designed to meet the following three objectives: to achieve the world's highest level of environmental performance; to offer all the practicality of a passenger sedan; and to deliver high-quality, powerful performance. An improved, even more fuel-efficient version of Honda's original IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) System has been installed on the same Global Compact Platform used for the Civic Ferio. The Civic Hybrid's ultra-high fuel economy and clean emissions are matched by an opulent, leading-edge interior and exterior design and a custom-tuned chassis, giving the new vehicle the quality feel and elegant driving performance one would expect from a luxury sedan.

The Civic Hybrid features a state-of-the-art VTEC Cylinder Cut-off System-equipped 1.3L i-DSI*2 engine. The new engine incorporates i-DSI lean-burn combustion technology, along with the VTEC Cylinder Idling System that adapts Honda's VTEC variable valve control technology to significantly increase the amount of electrical energy recovered during deceleration.

This new engine is combined with an assist motor featuring improved performance, a more efficient Power Control Unit (PCU), and the Honda Multimatic S continuously variable transmission. The results are both ultra-high fuel economy and superior drivability. Moreover, the new Civic Hybrid's clean-burning performance has also earned it recognition by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as an Ultra Low-Emissions Vehicle.

Honda has long been committed to preserving the environment, and has worked to develop vehicles that are both cleaner-burning and more fuel efficient. In the field of cleaner emissions. Honda's goal is to ensure that all its passenger vehicles are recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as Low-Emissions Vehicles by 2002, and that nearly all are recognized as Ultra Low-Emissions Vehicles by 2005. Honda is working to improve the fuel economy of its vehicles by 25% (as compared to Japanese domestic average fuel consumption for 1995) by 2005.

  • *110-15 mode (Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport figures)
  • *2DSI: Dual & Sequential Ignition
Civic Hybrid

Civic Hybrid

New Civic Hybrid-Main Features

New Honda IMA System

The new IMA System employs a gasoline engine as its main power source, assisted by an electric motor as the need arises. It offers improved efficiency over the previous IMA System on which its design is based. The Insight, which was equipped with the previous IMA system, boasted the world's highest fuel economy for a production vehicle.

During acceleration and other instances of heavy engine load, the motor assist system contributes considerable torque, resulting in both lower fuel consumption and powerful acceleration. At cruising speeds, when engine load is lower, the motor assist system shuts down. The newly developed 1.3-liter i-DSI lean-burn engine with the VTEC Cylinder Cut-off System achieves the highest standard of fuel economy in the world.

During deceleration, the motor converts the dissipated energy into electricity (regenerative braking). The newly developed VTEC Cylinder Cut-off System reduces engine friction during deceleration, greatly improving the vehicle's electrical regenerative efficiency.

When stopping, at traffic lights for example, the engine shuts off automatically, then restarts immediately when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal. This automatic idle-stop system contributes to both greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

New 1.3-liter i-DSI Engine with VTEC Cylinder Cut-off System

  • The 1.3-liter i-DSI engine's rapid combustion characteristics combined with a configuration of two spark plugs per cylinder allows the fuel-air mixture to be made even leaner, for improved fuel economy.
  • The rocker arms that open and close the intake and exhaust valves are configured for dual operation in either valve-lift mode or idle mode. Normally, they are engaged via a synchronizing piston. During deceleration, the synchro piston is positioned inside the idle-mode rocker arm, disengaging the lift-mode rocker arm so that the valve remains at rest, effectively sealing off the cylinder. Three of the four cylinders can be shut down, achieving 50% lower engine friction during deceleration than the previous IMA System.
  • Also featured are both a high-density, 900-cell three-stage catalytic converter and a lean burn-compatible adsorption-type NOx catalytic converter. The result is a clean-burning engine that meets exhaust-gas emissions standards for ultra-low emissions vehicles set by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

New Motor Assist System

  • The motor assist system is composed of an ultra-thin DC brushless motor, a nickel metal hydride battery, and a Power Control Unit (PCU). The new system employs a higher-output motor, a more efficient battery, and a lighter, more compact PCU, resulting in greater packaging freedom.
  • Improvements to the internal magnetic coils of the ultra-thin DC brushless motor, which boasts the world's highest output density and practical efficiency, achieve 30% greater assisting and regenerative torque than the previous model. A sintering diffusion bonding process is used to firmly fuse different metals together, allowing the most appropriate materials to be used in construction of the rotor to meet the different demand criteria for its inner section, which transmits torque, and for its outer section, which is in contact with the magnetic coils. Strengthening the section that transmits the torque and increasing the magnetic-flux density results in higher torque output.
  • The inverter and the pre-driver have been combined, reducing the weight of the PCU by around 30%, and its volume by around 40%, in comparison to the previous system.
  • The efficiency of the battery modules has been increased, resulting in reduced energy loss. The battery's storage box and peripheral equipment have been made more compact, for an approximate 30% reduction in volume.
  • The lighter, more compact, more efficient PCU and battery have been integrated into a single Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) that can be stored behind the rear seat.
  • Integrating the IPU allows the two cooling circuits previously used to be combined into one. Total volume of the PCU and battery has been reduced by around 50% over the previous system.


Packaging efficiency has been significantly improved by storing the IPU behind the rear seat and employing a flat-floor design.

Exterior Design

  • The Civic Hybrid was designed with smart, aerodynamic styling. Special aerodynamic parts are employed throughout for increased aerodynamic performance. A feeling of solidity and power combines with this aerodynamic form for a leading-edge look.
  • In addition to the integrated front grill/aerodynamic bumper and the trunk spoiler, the entire body has been designed to maximize aerodynamic performance. Innovations include a vehicle height lower than the base model and a flattened undercarriage with engine under-cover and rear floor side covers. The result is superior, top-of-class aerodynamic performance in a practical sedan design.

Interior Design

Custom seat coverings, a black wood-grain center panel, and chrome-plated parts throughout are highlighted by a chic, sporty instrument panel that combines digital and analog displays, including a self-illuminating, 3-gauge cluster. These and other features lend the Civic Hybrid's custom interior the luxurious, leading-edge feel that one would expect in a hybrid vehicle.

Driving Performance

The Civic Hybrid's custom-tuned suspension employs the same configuration as other models in the Civic series (front toe-control, link strut; rear reactive-link, double wishbone), along with EPS (electric power steering). Steering mounts have been made more rigid, the front stabilizer bar has been made thicker, and a rear stabilizer added as well, resulting in luxurious ride comfort combined with comfortable handling.

Safety Performance

  • Honda's original G-CON (G-force Control) technology is incorporated to create a new body with a crash safety design that is among the best in the world. It offers passenger protection in a 55km/h full-frontal collision, a 64km/h front offset collision, 55km/h side collision, and a 50km/h rear collision.
  • To further improve safety in real-world collisions, Honda has implemented its own vehicle-to-vehicle collision testing program with its own independently-established standards*3. This collision testing is much more demanding than conventional tests in which the car is crashed into a fixed barrier. The Civic Hybrid's safety design meets even Honda's own stringent testing requirements.
  • Integrating the new Honda IMA System's high-voltage components in a single, compact IPU located behind the rear seat away from the passenger compartment secures crushable zones to protect occupants from rear and side collisions. This, coupled with a warning system that detects electrical faults, ensures a high level of safety, guarding against electrical shocks even in the event of a collision. Further collision safety measures, including additional strengthening materials and stronger mounting sections, are unique to the Civic Hybrid.
  • *3Test involves a 50% front offset collision with a 2-ton class vehicle, both vehicles traveling at 50km/h.

Environmental Performance

  • In addition to the new Honda IMA System's outstanding fuel economy, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in the exhaust gas have been greatly reduced. In fact, the Civic Hybrid runs so clean that it is recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as an Ultra Low-Emissions Vehicle, with emissions of less than 25%*4 of those allowed under year 2000 emissions regulations.
  • Recycling starts at the production stage. Almost all interior injection-molded parts are made of olefin resin for superior recyclability. This and other measures result in an overall vehicle recyclability of over 90%*5.
  • *4Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport figures.
  • *5According to independent Honda measurement standards.